arts and design

Second Jacob Lawrence painting missing for 60 years is located

A second lost panel from the Black American artist Jacob Lawrence’s sweeping series Struggle: From the History of the American People has been located, the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts announced on Tuesday.

Officially entitled Immigrants admitted from all countries: 1820 to 1840 – 115,773, the painting also known as panel 28 had not been seen in public since 1960 and was known only through a black-and-white reproduction.

“We are thrilled to share news of this important discovery, especially at a time when Americans are actively engaged with democracy,” Lydia Gordon, associate curator at the Peabody Essex in Salem, said in a statement.

The painting will join nearly 30 of Lawrence’s works painted in the 1950s for the last two stops of a Peabody organized national tour in Seattle and Washington DC, museum officials said. The 30-piece series remains incomplete, as three panels remain lost, the museum said.

The 12in-by-16in panel was found in a New York City apartment, like another painting in the series, panel 16, that was rediscovered in a different home in October. The owner, who wants to remain anonymous, inherited panel 28 from family, who – like the figures depicted – were immigrants.

The egg tempera on hardboard piece, in vivid reds and yellows, depicts two women in shawls clutching babies, one nursing, and a man wearing a wide-brimmed hat and holding a flower pot containing a single red rose. The subjects have oversized hands, symbolizing what it meant to arrive with what could be carried, the museum said.

It was inspired by a table of immigration statistics published in Richard B Morris’s Encyclopedia of American History. The panel has undergone some restoration work.

It will join a travelling exhibition, Struggle: From the History of the American People, starting on Friday at the Seattle Art Museum. The show will be there through 23 May, before moving to the Phillips Collection in Washington from 26 June to 19 September.

It is the first time in more than 60 years the pieces are being shown together. Museum officials hope the discovery of panels 28 and 16, which depicts Shays’ Rebellion, a 1786-87 tax revolt in Massachusetts, will help locate the three panels still missing.

“Lawrence created this body of work during the modern civil rights era to interpret pivotal moments in the American revolution and early decades of the republic as ongoing struggles,” Gordon said.


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